Sunday, February 8, 2015

Republic of the Congo

Are things any better next door in the other Congo, which is sometimes called Congo Brazzaville, and which does not even bother to pretend the word "democratic" in its nomenclature? Twenty-five years of Marxism didn’t do much good, though the country became briefly democratic in 1992. Very briefly. About three days. The election results were disputed and fighting broke out immediately, on a small scale until 1997, when the army split, as the country had done, on ethnic lines, mostly north-south, and civil war restored former Marxist President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, but only because he deposed the elected President and Prime Minister. That went on for six more years, particularly in the south. A peace treaty was signed in March 2003, but the calm is tenuous and refugees continue to present a humanitarian crisis. 

The CIA World Factbook states that: "The Republic of Congo is one of Africa's largest petroleum producers, but with declining production it will need new offshore oil finds to sustain its oil earnings over the long term." This is unusually vague for the CIA. Vast oil reserves have been a key factor in the war, and warlords have emerged, fighting for control of it. The same is true of diamonds, with the Congo expelled from international diamond agreements after it proved unable to explain what was happening to all its rough diamonds. And then the IMF cancelled debt relief to the country because of corruption. 70% of the people live in dire poverty, despite the oil and the diamonds.

The other truly and profoundly interesting fact about the country is that, where the rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo are known as guerrillas, the rebels here are known as Ninjas. Honestly. And they take their name, not from the teenage ninja turtles of moron-movie fame, but from the same source as that movie, the Shinobi, who were spies and mercenaries long ago in Japan, different from the Samurai only in the fact that the latter observed a strict code of honour, but the former did not. Nor do they today in the Congo. 

Marks For:0

Marks Against: 999

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
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The Argaman Press

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